Flying Officer Robert Arthur Edward LOWE

Service No: 437210
Born: Loxton SA, 25 October 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 25 November 1942
Unit: No. 51 Squadron (RAF), RAF Snaith, Yorkshire
Died: Injuries from Air Operations  (No. 51 Squadron Halifax aircraft MZ581), Suffolk, 21 July 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur James Lowe and Ethel Lesetta Lowe, of Brighton, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Glenelg SA
Remembered: Panel 126, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Halifax MZ581 took off from RAF Snaith at 2302 hours on the night of 20/21st July 1944 detailed to bomb Bottrop, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. MZ581 was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the target area and the fins and rudders were severely damaged. Soon after the aircraft collided with another aircraft (which has not been able to be identified) , but control was regained and a course set for Woodbridge in Suffolk. On the approach to Woodbridge MZ581 collided with trees and crashed near the runway. Three of the crew members lost their lives.

The crew members of MZ581 were:

Sergeant K E C Adams (2220234) (RAF) (Rear Gunner) Survived
Flying Officer Kenneth John Brown (410302) (Navigator) Survived: Discharged from the RAAF: 13 May 1948
Flying Officer Brian Patrick Cosgriff (418737) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant R G Hodgson (1592935) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) Survived
Flying Officer Henry Anthony Jowett (418427) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Ainsworth Laing (429583) (Wireless Air Gunner) Survived, Killed on Air Operations: 13 September 1944
Flying Officer Robert Arthur Edward Lowe (437210) (Mid Upper Gunner) Fatally injured, Died: 21 July 1944

A later flying accident report stated “The collision occurred during night operations in the first phase. The crash occurred at night near a fully lit airfield. The collision resulted in loss of control and the Pilot made a gallant attempt to bring the damaged aircraft back to this country. It was suggested that the crew should have baled out before landing.”

The Flight Engineer reported “While over the target area a collision occurred at 0135 hours between my aircraft and another 4 engined aircraft. No one was injured in the collision. After the collision the aircraft was flying starboard wing low and did so for the rest of the flight. We eventually reached Woodbridge and decided to land. The Captain informed flying control of very little rudder control and permission to land was given. We made a normal approach and the crew were ordered to crash positions. During the approach the aircraft swung to port, the Pilot corrected and the aircraft swung again to port. I heard the engines being opened up and thought we were overshooting. The aircraft then hit trees and crashed. I escaped through the broken astro dome and the aircraft caught fire.”

The Navigator reported “The aircraft crashed into pine trees east of Woodbridge. The Pilot had great difficulty controlling the aircraft as the port fin and rudder were missing, large holes were in the fuselage and starboard main plane outboard of the starboard engine.”


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/25/179

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